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600 E Boulevard Ave
Dept 113
Bismarck, ND 58505-0120

Phone · 701.328.3290
Fax · 701.328.1475
Email · hrms@nd.gov

Employment Verification · 701.328.2677

Management: Recruitment and Selection

The Position Description

This step of the employment process involves becoming thoroughly familiar with the position. With equal employment opportunity laws clearly in mind and before the search for applicants begins, the needs and responsibilities of the position need to be clearly outlined in a position description.

Purpose

A position description that is current, comprehensive, and concise is an important tool to be used at various stages of the employment process. Some of those stages are:

Position Analysis

Position analysis is a procedure by which positions are studied, with the aim of determining the duties and responsibilities of the position and the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to successfully perform them. The end result is a new or revised position description.

Position analysis requires a thorough familiarization with the job to learn as much as possible. Start with the following steps:

  1. Spend time with the incumbent at the job site, observing and conversing while the incumbent performs various tasks. If the position is vacant, gather information about the position from other sources, such as previous position descriptions, co-workers, etc.
  2. Identify specific position activities, work behaviors or other attributes required for satisfactory performance.
  3. Determine the reporting relationships—in terms of both supervision exercised and received.
  4. Observe the work environment as to physical working conditions, travel required, schedules (shifts), etc.
  5. Gather and document as much information as possible.

Next, analyze the information to:

  1. Determine the type and amount of education and work experience that will prepare someone to do the work.
  2. Determine measurable skills and credentials (e.g., a certain typing standard or licensure) that are required.
  3. Identify intangible criteria that is required or helpful in successful performance of the job, e.g., interpersonal skill, initiative, creativity, self-confidence, etc. The intangible job-related criteria can be used to help make the final decision between applicants who are quite similarly qualified.

Once information is gathered and documented, it can be used to prepare a complete and precise position description or to update an existing description.

What Should Be Included In A Position Description

The position description should be reviewed carefully to ensure that the content is directly relevant to the position and isn't discriminatory under such laws as the ADA. For example, task statements should describe what the tasks are and not how they are customarily performed. Minimum qualifications should include detailed statements on knowledge and skills required in addition to a certain level of education or work experience.

So that position descriptions can withstand possible legal challenge, they should be reviewed on a regular basis and updated or rewritten as necessary. A timely reminder to review position descriptions might be the annual performance review of an individual.

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